10 Epic Places to See on The Oregon Coast For First Timers

If you’re planning a trip to see the Oregon Coast for the first time, or perhaps you’ve been there but want to explore more, you’ve come to the right place.

Not only have I crossed the entire coastline of Oregon, but I’ve also crossed the entire eastern and nearly the entire western shorelines of the United States overall.

Without hesitation, out of the 1,000’s of miles of nature that I saw during the span of all my trips, the Oregon Coast stands king and this post showcasing 10 spots I’ve seen there will show why.

Epic is the right word for what you’re about to discover about the Oregon Coast:

  • I’m going to show you some of the most exotic places on the Oregon Coast.
  • I’m talking about the epic stuff you see on Instagram that make you wonder if it’s real (it is).
  • The beauty is that all these spots all literally on the coast of Oregon State and are fairly easy to find.
  • I will also grow this list as I keep exploring the Oregon Coast more and more (2 times so far).

My first experiences with the Oregon Coast (what you can expect for your first visit):

I had the Oregon Coast on my bucket list for many years and I finally got to explore it in 2019 on what I detailed as a west coast road trip. I labeled all the best looking spots I could find on Instagram and other online sources, found out the names of these places, plotted them on my GPS and went for it.

I was blown away and still am to this day at what the Oregon Coast offers. I may even move here one day if circumstances permit it.  The exotic nature of this state’s coastline is unmatched in my opinion and while other states, like Washington and California all have their own beautiful coastal scenery, Oregon is just in a league of it’s own, as you’ll find out.

I also explored this coastline again in 2020 during a western US road trip I did where I plotted even more places on this list to give you.

Trust me, this isn’t a “basic list” that’s been copied and pasted by lazy bloggers.

I saw a lot of that when I was first researching what to see on the Oregon Coast. Most sites and blogs just use rehashed pictures, most of which lack any taste and do injustice to Oregon’s beauty.

It’s the real deal and I want to hear what you think below after you finish reading it what you think. Let’s get started:

Here are the 10 epic places I discovered throughout the Oregon Coast:

  1. Samuel H. Boardman Park.10 most beautiful places on the oregon coast
  2. Whaleshead Beach.
  3. Natural bridges.
  4. Secret Beach.
  5. Oregon’s Sand Dunes (dunes on a beach).
  6. Thor’s well.
  7. Florence (Sea Lions and caves)
  8. Cannon Beach.
  9. Devil’s Punchbowl.
  10. Astoria (Where the Goonies were filmed & where you can find sea lions too).

1) Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor: 

Samuel H. Boardman State scenic corridor oregon coast

One of the first locations I drove through after enter Oregon from the South was this park.

The road that takes you across this park is known as the 101 highway, but also goes by the name of the scenic corridor and once you enter it, you’ll understand why.

This park itself stretches for miles and miles across the Oregon coast and has at least 10 different spots where you can pull off the road and go exploring to the coast itself, including secret beaches, natural bridges, hiking trails and more. 

In fact, the entire park is one big trail that zigzags across the coast and into the mountains, then back down again and it is a must do for any avid hiker and the trail WILL take you through each location within this park that I am recommending that you definitely see.

If you’re not into hiking, don’t worry, the drive itself (the scenic corridor) will take you through each location that you can check out without having to hike anywhere major. 

Samuel H. Boardman park itself has at least 10 different and amazing locations you can explore and I could honestly fill up this whole article’s list with just the locations here, but this park is only a small chunk of the beauty that is the Oregon coast…

But I would be re missed if I didn’t mention the next 3 locations WITHIN this park that I honestly think you can’t afford to miss and they are location numbers 9, 8 and 7:

2) Whaleshead Beach:

whaleshead beach oregon coast

I mentioned Whaleshead and how awestruck I was when I got there in this article, so I won’t say the same stuff other than you should go here if you own a all wheel drive vehicle.

This is simply a beach that has a beautiful scenic view where you can spend hours at. If I had my way, I’d stay there all night, camp out and enjoy the view. Other than the rocky road that is a bit annoying to drive through, the parking lot near the beach is clean, organized and the beach is a few steps from there.

3) Natural bridges (My favorite spot on the Oregon coast):

natural bridges oregon coast

Go. To. This. Place. I can’t be more anymore clear on this.

And here is exactly where Natural Bridges is. And it’s also the first image you saw in this article by the way.

And quite frankly, out of all the spots in the park I saw on the road, this one, ironically was the easiest to access (and most beautiful in my opinion).

You can park right outside the viewpoint of this place and if you then wish to, hike down to it (that is a tough hike, and I explain how to do it in the link above, but fair warning, it’s dangerous).

But viewing it and taking in this spot’s beauty takes literally nothing.

Here is a beautiful video I took when I last visited this area:

And here is another one that just about everyone I show this clip to loves (from the same spot):

I think at this point, these 2 clips have provided enough proof as to why I keep saying to visit this place. It’s honestly my favorite on this whole list (and all of Oregon).

4) Secret Beach:

secret beach on oregon coast

How’s that picture for a good reason to visit Secret Beach?

And it’s easy to reach too! Just follow these instructions to find Secret Beach and getting to this spot too!

It’s shortly past Natural Bridges and also a highly recommended spot. The first time I visited the Oregon Coast, I missed it, but the second time, I made sure to get there.

It’s really easy to get to, as well as hike down to reach the shore and it is a very beautiful place.

Considering this and Natural Bridges are so close, the next thing I want to do is kayak at both spots.

And here is an awesome video on YouTube detailing the beauty of Secret Beach:

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5) Oregon’s Sand Dunes:

The 101 will undoubtedly lead you across a large beach mixed in with sand dunes. I only saw it from a distance, and regret not going (it was getting dark when I was passed through there). But the sand dunes in this place are also worth looking at if you enjoy a combination of beaches, desserts and activities you can do on both.

6) Thor’s well:

thors well oregon coast

Thor’s Well is a popular spot for tourists and honestly, it’s not even that big, but the whole location around Thor’s well is well worth looking at.

It is located on this amazing black rock that looks like it’s been made from lava and the entire landscape around Thor’s well is also impressive.

If you want to see the “geyser” like effect of Thor’s well, visit it during low tide like I did. 

There are some other cool areas near Thor’s Well you can explore such as Hug Point, that features a beautiful waterfall right on the beach.

Just as well, sunsets around (or any area in Oregon) are absolutely stunning and I recommend staying for those too if you go.

7) Florence, Oregon (you can see sea lions):

Florence is actually a town right by the Oregon Coast and it has it’s own beach and nature spots, but the thing to look for here (besides the town) is the caves on the beach which often have sea lions in them. I don’t recall if they are accessible, but you can find the spot here:

8) Cannon Beach:

I missed this spot on my trip, but I can tell you that it’s a large beach with a single large mountain in the middle of it and it’s really something that an east coast native like myself is simply not used to seeing.

Although you can find these landscapes ALL across the Oregon Coast, Cannon beach is the one where you can get close to it without having to hike much as it’s literally off the beach and accessible during low tide:

9) Devils Punchbowl:

devils punch bowl oregon coast

This was a location I tried my best to get to after Thor’s well but sadly, night hit me earlier than I hit this spot and I couldn’t actually see much while there, but it is highly recommended for you.

Update: I finally went to Devil’s Punchbowl! The picture above is from that trip I took there.

But a good way to describe what this place looks like is to imagine a meteor lands on land, makes a huge hole in it and then within that hole you can enter and see the ocean waves come in.

That’s basically what this location is and it’s amazing:

Note: California’s coast also has a similar spot (also called Devils Punchbowl) and it’s located at a place called Russia Gulch. So if you decide to travel through the entire Pacific Coast Highway, mark that spot down as well as this one in Oregon.

10) Astoria, Oregon (That Goonie town place):

One of my favorite childhood movies was the Goonies and if you’ve ever seen that movie and wondered where it was filmed, the answer is Astoria, Oregon:

This was the last location on my trip that I took before I took the bridge into Washington State, but here I was able to see seals in large numbers and I really enjoyed that experience, so if you want to see seals more along the Oregon Coast, Astoria is where I’d find them.

What else is there to see near the Oregon Coast?

If these 10 places weren’t enough for you, then you may also want to see these other spots:

1) If you’re headed south of Oregon in general, you’ll obviously hit California and from there, you can see a number of awesome spots in the Pacific Coast highway, but specifically:

The Redwoods and Fort Bragg among other spots in California like Big Sur. In fact, it’s coastal area is also very beautiful, like Oregon, but is it better? You tell me: Here is a comparison of California’s coast vs Oregon’s.

2) And of course, if you’re visiting Oregon, you should also check deeper into the state and check out places like Columbia River Gorge.

3) To the north is Washington State and you should probably check out the Washington Coast too, as there are plenty of spots to see there too, some of which compare well to the beauty of Oregon’s coast too. I’ve also compared the Oregon coast vs Washington coast here if you want to know which places to check out in each area.

4) And if you’re willing to go even further than Washington State, there is also the very beautiful Vancouver Island I recommend seeing.

As for the Oregon Coast, if you have your own personal list of places to see, please let me know!

8 thoughts on “10 Epic Places to See on The Oregon Coast For First Timers”

  1. I once did a road trip from San Francisco to San Diego and the coast there is supposed to be amazing, it is very well known for it. However, the Oregon coast sounds better and prettier. I just added it to my bucket list. I want to see all of the places you’ve mentioned but on the top of the list is probably Thor’s Well. That just looks and sounds unreal!

    Thanks for the recommendation 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Hollie, I briefly stopped at San Francisco and then headed up the coast to Fort Bragg, before hitting up Oregon the next day. Trust me, California itself has plenty of beautiful coastal spots to see there too, but if you’re tight on time and really into nature, Oregon is where I recommend you spend most of your time. Thor’s Well is awesome, but do not neglect the beauty of Samuel H. Boarderman park, they have even more spectacular places there!

      Reply
  2. My wife and I are going to be doing retirement soon and we are looking for ideas on travel that we can take our underused trailer on.

    This is something we have talked about wanting to do for a few years now. Up until now, our trailer adventures have been limited to the North West corner of Washington State for a couple of weeks at a time so you can understand why we would like to expand our horizons.

    These places sound amazing and the pictures, although very nice, probably don’t compare to the real thing and being in the great outdoors is something that has always been appealing to us.

    Friends of ours have been to Cannon Beach often and really like it there. It will definitely be on our list when we go.

    I was wondering if you knew whether or not there were any places one could camp for free in this area?  We have a limited budget so we are looking for ways to save, you know?

    Thanks again for this timely post.

    All the best as you travel,

    Wayne

    Reply
    • Hi Wayne, I am certain you will find plenty of areas where you can park and camp all throughout highway 101, which will take you through all the areas I listed here. As I drove up the coast, I saw a lot of empty spots (it was off season) and at times there was one trailer or so. I doubt these people reserved a spot but I would call up the area you are going to before hand and ask them. 

      For example, when you enter an official park, find the park on Google maps, and you will be given a number for the ranger station. Ask them these same things and they will be able to provide a better answer.

      Reply
  3. A visit to all these 10 places would be a dream come true, but for a small budget, I would rather visit some fabulous places like the Thor’s well. I am a lover of historic places, even if they are man made. 

    Of the Oregon coast wonders I have had the opportunity of seeing devils punch bowl and it was such a awesome sight. 

    Reply
    • I wish I was able to see Devil’s Punchbowl in the daytime like you probably did, but i have to say with regards to the 10 spots listed here, you CAN check them out on a budget. Just rent a car, head along the coast during the off season and the prices for hotels during that period (February was pretty good for prices) will be pretty cheap.

      Reply
  4. I’m researching Oregon and Washington coastal areas to move to (and eventually retire to) sometime in the next 3-5 years. I came across your blog in my research.

    What you shared makes me sure the Oregon coast is the perfect place to settle! Now it’s just deciding where. Thank you for such a wonderful post!

    Reply
    • Hi Jennifer thanks! I would agree on the Oregon or Washington areas to settle, and I hope within the next 3 years or so things will calm down in those regions.

      Reply

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